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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Sunday, April 21

Gapers Block

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Andrew / August 27, 2008 12:59 PM

Longtime readers may recall our asking a similar question back in 2004; we figured it was time to check again.

Julianna / August 27, 2008 1:08 PM

I had a truly frustrating experience with At&T (then Cingular) in college. Lets just say once all the details were worked out I took GREAT pleasure in throwing my old cellphone into the woods. It may or may not have been on fire. I may or may not have been drunk. And underage.

Anywho, since then I've been with Verizon and have been pretty pleased with the customer service as well as the coverage. The only place I ever had spotty coverage was in Abilene, Texas. But, when you're in Abilene, having spotty cellphone service is the least of your problems. Trying not to laugh at people who are wearing ten gallon hats and spurs without a hint of irony proved far more challenging.

annie / August 27, 2008 1:11 PM

This is timely for me, I am thinking of ditching Verizon and my crap Razor phone. My Verizon bill is starting to remind me of my Comcast bill, which if you have cable, you can't help but feel you are getting screwed. It just shouldn't cost this much! Looking forward to see what service is worth switching to.

Dragonslayer / August 27, 2008 1:44 PM

I'm on T-Mobile now, but was a 10-year customer of AT&T/Cingular until they kicked me off their network last year for roaming too much.

Yes, roaming too much. I was working in Fargo on a 4-month project in winter '07, where they have no coverage. Come summer '07, they kicked me off. Of course, they waited until I bought an iPhone before giving me the boot.

Unfortunately, T-Mobile has crappy coverage in my condo. I miss phone calls and text messages all the time.

Eamon / August 27, 2008 1:51 PM

Still with T-Mobile, still pretty happy. I've been having issues with my text messages lately, but it's unclear whether it's T-Mobile's MMS service or my incredibly crappy phone that's to blame.

m / August 27, 2008 2:23 PM

i have t-mobile and i have few complaints. i rarely use the 1000 minutes i have, although i tend to go over with the texts every now and then (400 texts in a package i believe). i dont get very good coverage in wisconsin when driving to minneapolis, and i feel like i've had spotty coverage in NH and ME, but everywhere else I've traveled I get pretty great service. I have even gotten 2 or 3 bars when people I've been with have gotten zero.

I have thought about switching companies, but don't have a real NEED to. Possibly when my contract is up next April, I'll think about it (and refer to this post!)

It should be said that I'm really not high maintenance when it comes to phones though. I just need to be able to make the few phone calls I make and have texting abilities. Beyond that, I really don't care. Although, I do also enjoy the ringtones they have to offer.

Andrew / August 27, 2008 3:31 PM

I've had Sprint since 1999, and although I'm not crazy about them, I've found them reasonably reliable and not terribly expensive. My phone is three years old and just starting to show problems.

That said, I may do some comparison shopping when my contract is up in November.

Jasmine / August 27, 2008 4:21 PM

AT&T since summer July 2005 (when it was Cingular). Switched from Sprint because I wanted the bubble gum pink Razr. Also because for the 6 years that I had Sprint I never got decent reception in any apartment I lived in. So I'd be outside in 20-degree weather, trying to order food and yelling my credit card information for all my neighbors to hear.

Service has been good for me. I now have an iPhone 3G. If it were a dude, I'd marry it. Or at least make out with it a bunch.

mike / August 27, 2008 4:50 PM

FYI, reception also depends on the phone. My U.S. Cell LG got no signal in my office while my co-worker's U.S. Cell Nokia worked great.

I had a bad landline experience with Sprint involving casual billing back in 1999 -- at the time I told them I would hold a grudge against them for the rest of my life if they didn't rectify the problem. They screwed me over so I will never do business with them out of pure spite.

Gaigen / August 27, 2008 4:57 PM

I've only had one service (AT&T) so I can't compare it. It's been ok, from San Francisco to Toronto.

Wait, I forgot my first cell phone, one of those huge grey jobs with the flipdown mouth panel. My friends called it the "talking brick".

mo / August 27, 2008 6:44 PM

I've always had Sprint, and the coverage is fine. I've rarely roamed, even when traveling.

That being said, Sprint has crappy phones. The new Instinct looks cool, but I don't need it. I have bare bones phone, bare bones plan.

But I'm off contract now, and they are harrassing the crap out of me trying to get me to "upgrade my phone for a discount!" which I know from being suckered last time means signing a new contract.

flange / August 27, 2008 7:07 PM

another satisfied t-mo customer. i can't remember the last time i had to call customer service. signal is generally good, though i do wonder if they've picked up customers lately (maybe all those hacked iphones, as i've heard the bootleg sims work only with t-m) because the network seems to get congested around rush hour and early evening. but even then, once i'm back on the network, i never have a dropped call. so happy i dropped my land line years ago.

mike-ts / August 27, 2008 10:32 PM

I had Verizon 2002-2004. It was miserable, with reception decreasing throughout the contract. I've had Cingular ATT ever since. Hooray!

sb / August 27, 2008 10:55 PM

i've had several different providers and hardware sets, and i have to report that none of them were particularly good experiences.

HOP / August 28, 2008 10:04 AM

I've had Sprint since 2000 and I've always had great service- usually when others do not. I also get free roaming on all networks, so I can use all the other towers whenever I need to. I also tend to agree with other sentiments that the phone offerings leave much to be desired.

Carrie / August 28, 2008 10:17 AM

I've had T-Mobile since 04, and it's been a pretty good experience. I have roaming coverage a lot in Michigan, but Chicagoland has been good. I finally upgraded phones from my piece of crap freebie phone, and I love my new itty-bitty Nokia.

Here's a tip for those thinking of signing a new contract with a company they've been with a while: Be sure to call customer service and say "Give me some incentive to stay with you." and they can give you unadvertised deals on your phone or plan. I got them to tack on 400 extra anytime minutes a month for the same price plan.

David / August 28, 2008 10:58 AM

I use AT&T, which I'm pretty happy with. I had Sprint for a while, but the AT&T service seems broader and more stable.

Hal / August 28, 2008 12:23 PM

Been with T-Mobile since 2002, based on a good Consumer Reports review. Been very happy. Only gripe is that they dropped the Treo years ago (for their Sidekick), so I had to buy mine unlocked off eBay and several models back, to keep it affordable. I love my Treo and could get a good deal with another provider, I'm sure, but I'm happy enough with T-Mobile that this arrangement works for me.

Ian / August 28, 2008 5:47 PM

I had AT&T for a couple of years and had lousy reception everywhere (mostly my apartment). I've been with Verizon now for 3, maybe 4 years and can't complain. Sure, it's a little expensive, but aren't they all?

Is US Cellular a nationwide retailer? How come I never see their commercials/advertising except in the midwest?

Jill / August 28, 2008 6:20 PM

Pre-paid all the way, baby! I use Tracfone (because I'm not much of a cell phone user). No real problems, it's cheap, and I only have to think about buying minutes/service once or twice a year.

JasonB / August 28, 2008 11:08 PM

No cell phone (I hate them) but I do use a cellular broadband laptop adapter from Verizon when I travel. I typically get decent broadband speed in Chicago that vary between 700k and 2mb down and anywhere between 65kb - 300kb up.

Everywhere else I've tried, I only received their "national" coverage, which is basically the equivalent of a 56k modem, with an occasional spike in speed.

You wouldn't want to use it for regular net access (too flakey/pricey), but it gets the job done when I need to VPN into the office.

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